Failed projects sat in medieval workshop for 800 years. Photos show the site in France

Broken and abandoned, a collection of failed projects sat in the ruins of a tile workshop in northwestern France for 800 years. Not anymore.

Archaeologists uncovered the ruins of a medieval tile-making workshop in Beaupréau-en-Mauges, the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) said in an Oct. 17 news release. The workshop functioned for a few decades around 1150 to 1200 A.D.

The workshop site had two sections, the release said. The interior egg-shaped section is about 65 feet across and has a cellar and staircase. The exterior section is where the terracotta tile-making took place and has a main extraction pit.

A photo shows the excavation pit and, at the bottom, some of the failed tile projects. A dismantled oven was also found in the pit, according to the release.

The extraction pit with failed tile projects at the bottom.
The extraction pit with failed tile projects at the bottom.

Archaeologists identified the workshop as an early pioneer of the region’s tile manufacturing.

Tile making largely disappeared from northern France, then known as Gaul, between the sixth and 11th centuries, the release said. By the 12th century, the small or medium-sized workshop in Beaupréau-en-Mauges had begun operating, likely with some trial and error.

Photos show some of the tiles left at the workshop. The tiles vary in shape and size. Some are shaped like horseshoes, others like long, narrow rectangles, and some are flatter with a protruding point.

Some of the tiles found at the workshop.
Some of the tiles found at the workshop.

Archaeologists found a specific stamp marking repeated on several tiles, the release said. This stamp depicted an outstretched wolf with an open mouth and curling tail, a photo shows. The workshop used this wolf stamp like a signature.

Some long, narrow tiles (top) and the signature wolf stamp (bottom) found at the workshop.
Some long, narrow tiles (top) and the signature wolf stamp (bottom) found at the workshop.

A photo shows one broken terracotta tile decorated with rows of wolf stamps and other X-shaped markings.

A terracotta tile with the wolf stamp and other markings.
A terracotta tile with the wolf stamp and other markings.

Tiles from the workshop were used for roofs, bread ovens and likely decorative purposes, archaeologists said.

Excavations of the workshop began in 2020, according to the release.

Beaupréau-en-Mauges is about 220 miles southwest of Paris.

Google Translate was used to translate the news release from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap).

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